This was Farm and Dairy’s first try at a holiday story contest and we didn’t quite know what to expect – certainly not the 140 articles that poured into our office in early December. How exciting it was to see our readers so interested!
With all those entries, we decided to break down our original age groups so we could have more winners. Read half of the winning stories in this week’s paper, and the rest will be in our Jan. 1 issue.
Thank you for taking the time to put together such thoughtful, creative tales and sharing them with us. Getting to read each of these stories was a holiday treat all in itself.
Winner, 9 and under:
It was near Christmas and Marie was excited. She had been waiting all year for the Christmas decorations to be put up. One of her favorite things about the season is curling up for a nice, cozy nap in her basket under the tree. Her next favorite thing is to go outside to make cat angels in the snow.
Marie lived on a beautiful farm. This farm had a big lake and a huge white barn. In the spring and summer there were lots of little fish and tadpoles to try and catch. But now that it’s winter, they are all frozen and safe from Marie’s little paws.
She loved the big old barn, too. There was always something new to discover each day! Like one day when the pig had a new litter of piglets, they kept getting out of the pen and into mischief! They were so funny to watch because it was their first time walking and they stumbled quite often.
Marie was good at keeping secrets and it was a good thing too because she had a big one!
She knew what her owner, Tia, was getting for Christmas. Tia’s parents were getting her a horse of her very own.
All day they had been busy preparing a place in the barn for the new horse because tomorrow was Christmas!
That evening Marie curled up to sleep early in her basket hoping the next day would come sooner. And it did! The next morning she woke up to a mountain of presents under the tree. There were even three for her!
Before she could start opening hers, she watched as Tia opened her last present. It was a pair of brand new riding boots.
She gave her parents a puzzled look as she took them from the box. Her parents led her out to the barn where she was about to have a great surprise. In a special pen inside the barn stood a young Palomino. There was a bow tied around his neck. Tia squealed with delight because she always wanted a horse of her own!
She picked Marie up and said,” Why didn’t you tell me?” But Marie just purred and smiled to herself because she knew she had kept the secret.
Winner, ages 10-11:
The Unforgettable Christmas Eve
One Christmas Eve last year was unforgettable. It all started when Santa noticed that Comet was missing from the stable. He set off the alarm to all the elves that Comet had been stolen.
The elves panicked when they remembered that it was one day until Christmas. The sleigh could not be driven without even one reindeer missing. They began a search party to find Comet.
Meanwhile, the crooks were getting away. The crooks were two overgrown cows who hated Christmas. They planned to end Christmas forever. The crooks were named Big Horn and Big Bruiser. They were some of the fiercest bulls known.
At the North Pole, Santa sent out some snowmen to get the crooks. Unfortunately, the snowmen melted when Big Horn shot a fireball at them.
Meanwhile at the farm in Ohio, three friends saw the crooks taking Comet away. So, the duck, cow, and horse went off to help Comet. The duck’s name was Wilbert and the cow’s name was Betsy. The horse’s name was John.
John had to carry Wilbert while following the crooks. The crooks were driving a Hummer!! On the way, the three friends got in a slug bug. They hardly fit!!
At that same moment, Santa was riding on one of his reindeer to find the location of Comet, which had a chip in each ear of the reindeer so they could be found. He found Comet’s location and sent some of his elves to get the crooks.
But Big Horn and Big Bruiser got away, because they lost the trail of the Hummer. They reported back to Santa sadly to tell him that they didn’t get Comet.
The three friends were chasing after the Hummer for six hours now. They were chasing the Hummer westward. The three friends were wondering where the crooks were taking Comet.
Santa didn’t give up easily. Once again he sent the elves with snowball guns to get the crooks. The elves made it to the Mississippi River where their snowballs had melted and became water.
The elves retreated when Big Bruiser threw rocks at them. Santa was angry when he heard the news about the elves.
The crooks finally made it to the destination of the Grand Canyon. Santa got there and told the crooks to give Comet to him. The crooks said they would if Santa ended Christmas forever. Santa refused.
At that moment, Big Horn hung Comet over the cliff. Santa said not to do that because it would not end Christmas.
Big Horn was about to drop Comet when John pushed him against the Hummer. Betsy grabbed Comet right before he fell down the canyon. Comet was freed and flew over to Santa.
At the same time Big Horn and Big Bruiser were arrested and taken to the cow pound. Betsy, Wilbert, and John were awarded for their bravery at the Grand Canyon.
That night, Santa delivered the toys and brought the three friends back to their farm yard. And everybody lived happily ever after.
Winner, age 12:
Do you believe in Santa? You bet I do, because this is what happened three years ago. …
It was December the 7, 2000. It was a very normal day. I got on the bus to go to school, and I sat in my normal seat with Emily.
We finally got to school and I walked in and put my instrument away in the band room. Then unpacked my backpack, got my books, and went to science. I noticed that Mr. Timmons wasn’t there, so I thought he was doing the morning announcements, as he usually does. To my surprise, he was absent.
Our substitute teacher was a man in his 70s. He walked in and started to write on the board. I squinted, trying to see what he was writing. It said “Mr. Butternut.” I commented that he kind of looked like Santa.
“I get that a lot,” he responded.
“Oh really?” I retorted.
“Yeah,” he said.
“Class,” Mr. Butternut said. “Sit down.” We all sat down not knowing what to expect next.
“My name is Mr. Butternut,” he said in a very stern and strong voice. I think that his voice made us even more uneasy.
He started teaching, and we went on with class as normally as possible. Then Emily said, “Are you sure you’re not Santa?”
Mr. Butternut gave her a look of pure annoyance. “No, Emily, I am not Santa!”
“How do you know my name?” she exclaimed.
“Seating chart,” he commented.
“Are you sure?” she shot back.
“Yes, now get back to work or I will give you a detention,” he said.
“Santa would not give me a detention!” she said.
“Oh yes he would. Emily, you have a detention,” Mr. Butternut commented dryly. Emily sank down in her chair.
“My mom will kill me,” she muttered under her breath so no one could hear her except Avonlea, who was sitting right next to her.
“Then you should not have talked back,” said Mr. Butternut.
“How did you hear me?” Emily asked, puzzled.
“I’m not telling you,” he told her.
The bell rang and nothing else abnormal happened the rest of the day.
The next morning, I got on the bus wondering if Mr. Butternut was going to be at school. He was, and everyone was wondering where Mr. Timmons was. Mr. Butternut told us that Mr. Timmons had the flu and would be out the rest of the week.
“Convenient,” Emily said.
“Well, Emily, I guess your are stuck with me until after Christmas break, but no one else seems to mind. You know what, Emily,” he continued, “I may look like Santa but I am not, so if you are going to disrupt my class get out now!”
Emily walked out. He shouted after her, “You just got yourself another detention!”
During lunch I tried to get Emily to apologize to Mr. Butternut, but she was being stubborn and kept saying no, because she was positive that he was Santa.
Finally I got her to apologize. So right after lunch we were going to go to the science room.
Santa told the elf: “I never really liked giving out detentions, but Emily is getting to close to my secret. For I really was Santa, but no one could ever find out.”
He sat there wondering when she would put two and two together because he knew that she would figure it out.
Meanwhile I was walking Emily to the science room to apologize to Mr. Butternut. We walked in and he was talking to an elf! He didn’t seem to notice use, so we just stood there listening to what was being said.
“We need you at the North Pole, Santa,” the elf said.
“I know, but I have to stay here until the end of the week,” he told the elf.
“Oh no,” the elf said. “Look.” He pointed towards us.
“I knew that she would figure it out eventually,” Santa commented. “I am so sorry that I gave you detentions, but you could not find out that I was Santa. It looks like you did anyway.”
“Santa, we promise that we will never tell anyone about this.”
“It looks like I have to go to the North Pole,” he said. “I will never forget about you.”
“Likewise,” we said in unison. “We promise.”
I broke the promise that I made to Santa for telling this story but I don’t think that he will mind.
Winner, 13 years:
The Stranger at the Door
Once, on a cold night in late December,
a woman, alone, sat listening to the embers;
when all of a sudden, a knock was heard,
so she went to the window to observe.
Now, there sat a man with rags as shoes,
and when she opened the door, he did choose
to step up inside to bask in the heat,
and asked if he might have something to eat.
“Who are you?” the woman asked with a snarl.
The poor man looked up, all twisted and gnarled.
“A man who does not have long to live,
so please let me stay, though I’ve nothing to give.”
So she brought him on in and sat him down by the fire,
and he asked her for his modest desires.
But he was turned down on his every plea,
then she asked, “What is it that you want of me?”
“Just a warm spot to stay, and a place to sleep. …”
And as she looked into his weary eyes, so deep,
she went back in time to so many years ago,
and she knew he was someone she used to know.
When next she awoke with the morning light,
she found him as she had left him in the night,
with both of his dark eyes peacefully shut,
only this time, he would never wake up.
“Oh, I love you, Dad – I wish you had known!”
Then he lifted his head with a soft, knowing moan,
and they looked at each other with a love so deep,
as he drifted off to his eternal sleep.
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